Sunday, February 28, 2010

bruschetta spaghetti

This is a great summertime pasta as a side to barbecued meat. I still serve it year-round though because it's definitely a favourite. Adjust the amount of banana pepper to your tolerance for spiciness and enjoy!

Here's what you'll need for about 4 servings:
  • 340g spaghetti
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp minced basil
  • 1/3 banana pepper
  • 4 small vine-ripened tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Prep work (about 10 minutes):
  1. Chop/mince necessary ingredients.
Here's what to do (about 10 minutes):
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, chives, banana pepper, basil, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix and marinade for 1 hour.
  3. Cook and strain the spaghetti.
  4. Add spaghetti into the bowl, mix thoroughly and serve.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

chicken fried rice

Making fried rice will bring out your creativity. You can put whatever type of meat and vegetables you like in it. You can also save time by making extra meat and rice and using the leftovers for fried rice the next day. A wok is ideal for making fried rice but a large frying pan will do. Most Asian cooking requires high heat - just make sure you are constantly stirring the rice as you add ingredients.

Here's what you'll need for about 5 servings:
  • 6 cups cooked white rice (avoid instant rice)
  • 4 chicken breasts, grilled and seasoned with sea salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup chopped baby carrots
  • 1 cup green peas
  • 1 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup white mushrooms
  • 1/2 green onion
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
Prep work (about 15 minutes):
  1. Cook the rice.
  2. Grill the chicken until cooked, chop into squares
  3. Mince the garlic.
  4. Chop all vegetables.
Here's what to do (about 15 minutes):
  1. Using the same pan used to grill the chicken, on high heat, melt the butter. For reduced fat, clean out the pan before you start or use a different frying pan.
  2. When the butter has melted add the garlic.
  3. Allow garlic to cook for a minute without burning then add the eggs, salt, and pepper.
  4. Scramble the eggs until cooked and then add the rice.
  5. Mix the eggs and rice together and then add the soy sauce.
  6. Add all vegetables and mix for 5 minutes.
  7. Add chicken, sea salt and pepper to taste and mix for another 5 minutes.
Other ingredient ideas:
  • use left over roast beef instead of chicken
  • yellow pepper
  • bean sprouts
  • snow peas

Sunday, February 21, 2010

salsa fresca

Homemade salsa fresca is amazing and so easy to make! In this recipe, I added peaches to the classic list of ingredients. If you don't have peaches, you can leave them out or substitute mango. Since peaches aren't in season, I used a couple of slices from my bag of mixed frozen fruit.

Here's what you'll need for about 4 cups of salsa:
  • 4 small vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 banana pepper, chopped (use less if you like it less spicy)
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 peach, chopped
  • 1 lime
  • sea salt
Here's what to do (about 10 minutes):
  1. Soak the cilantro in a bowl of water for 5 minutes and repeat to remove sediment. 
  2. Add all ingredients (with the exception of the lime) to a mixing bowl.
  3. Squeeze the juice out of the lime into the bowl.
  4. Mix the salsa and let sit for at least one hour before serving. Refrigerate all unused portions for later enjoyment.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

olive oil and basil toasted bread

In Toronto, ACE Bakery is famous for its european-style artisan bread. It's a bit pricier but well worth it. You can find it in most grocery stores. This recipe is extremely simple. If you're looking to make boring bread more interesting then try this out. You can serve it plain but it also works well as an appetizer when served with cheese, spreads, or bruschetta.

Here's what you'll need for about 15 slices:
  • 2 small ACE Bakery baguettes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • dry basil
  • sea salt (optional)
Prep work (about 5 minutes):
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut the bread into slices about 1 cm thick.
Here's what to do (about 5 minutes):
  1. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet.
  2. With a brush, spread olive oil evenly on all slices.
  3. Sprinkle dry basil on all slices.
  4. Dust sea salt sparingly on all slices (if serving with cheese or a spread then I usually skip the salt).
  5. Flip all slices and repeat steps 2-5.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 F.

the new optimum nutrition bible

If you're looking for a good read this book is full of great information, tips, and recommendations when it comes to food and your health. The approach is to eat optimally for your biochemical makeup and the environment you live to achieve good health. It's an easy read and I find that most of what the author says makes sense. There is only one thing I don't completely agree with in this book -- the emphasis on taking vitamin and mineral supplements. Either way, you'll learn a lot in this book and how to improve your health through a better diet.

Take a look through the book before you buy it! It's available on Google books.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

scalloped potatoes with mushrooms and shallots

Typically, scalloped potatoes are made with lots of butter, milk or cream, and cheese. In my own version, I've simplified the effort, reduced the saturated fat, and added flavour with shallots and mushrooms. It's a great side to any meat.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 5 large white potatoes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pint white mushrooms
  • 1/2 shallot
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated asiago cheese
Prep work (about 10 minutes):
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut the potatoes into slices (like potato chips but thicker). Set aside.
  3. Chop the mushrooms and shallots.
  4. Grease a casserole dish with olive oil.
  5. Grate the asiago cheese.
Here's what to do (about 10 minutes):
  1. In a small pan on medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  2. Add the mushrooms and shallots, stirring occasionally until the juices escape from the mushrooms (about 5 minutes).
  3. In the casserole dish, create a layer with the sliced potatoes.
  4. Brush the top of the layer lightly with olive oil.
  5. Spread part of the mushroom and shallot mixture on top and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until the casserole dish is full.
  7. Sprinkle the cheese on the top layer.
  8. Bake for one hour at 400 F.
  • If you prefer more cheese, add cheese to each layer.
  • If you don't have shallots, use white onion.


Shallots are in the onion family. Like onions, shallots contain antioxidants. I like to use shallots to change up the flavour in some of my dishes. They say that shallots are sweeter and more subtle than onions but I find they have a richer taste. Maybe it's because I'm so used to eating onions. Anyway, try substituting onions for shallots when cooking.

More Information:

Monday, February 15, 2010

baby spinach & portabella linguine

This is a lighter pasta dish packed with nutrients. If you're serving it with wine, I recommend a crisp, fruity pinot grigio.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 350 g chicken breast
  • 400 g linguine
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 large portabella mushroom
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 5 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. grey poupon (mustard)
  • 1 tbsp. dry basil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • dry white wine (optional)
  • grated asiago cheese
Prep work (about 15 minutes):
  1. Heat a large pot of salted water for the linguine.
  2. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper and grill it until cooked. Chop into cubes. Do not discard chicken juices.
  3. Chop garlic, onion, red peppers, and mushrooms.
  4. Grate preferred amount of asiago cheese.
Here's what to do (about 10 minutes):
  1. Add linguine to boiling water, stirring occasionally.
  2. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, melt the butter.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, onion, basil, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until onions are soft (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add chicken juices and mushrooms and continue to sauté until mushrooms are cooked (about 3 minutes).
  5. Add red pepper, mustard, worcestershire sauce, and chicken. If mixture is dry, add a bit of starchy water from the linguine or a few tablespoons of dry white wine. Stir sauce until fully heated.
  6. Strain the pasta and add to skillet.
  7. Toss the pasta while adding baby spinach. If mixture is dry, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Continue to toss until spinach is soft and is bright green.
  8. Serve and top with grated asiago.